Conceptual models of forest dynamics in environmental education and management: keep it as simple as possible, but no simpler

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/165293

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Forest Ecosystems. 2016 Aug 05;3(1):18

Title: Conceptual models of forest dynamics in environmental education and management: keep it as simple as possible, but no simpler
Author: Kuuluvainen, Timo
Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Date: 2016-08-05
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/165293
Abstract: Abstract Background Conceptual models of forest dynamics are powerful cognitive tools, which are indispensable for communicating ecological ideas and knowledge, and in developing strategic approaches and setting targets for forest conservation, restoration and sustainable management. Forest development through time is conventionally described as a directional, or “linear”, and predictable sequence of stages from “bare ground” to old forest representing the “climax-state”. However, this simple view is incompatible with the current knowledge and understanding of intrinsic variability of forest dynamics. Hypothesis Overly simple conceptual models of forest dynamics easily become transformed into biased mental models of how forests naturally develop and what kind of structures they display. To be able to communicate the essential features and diversity of forest dynamics, comprehensive conceptual models are needed. For this end, Kuuluvainen (2009) suggested a relatively simple conceptual model of forest dynamics, which separates three major modes of forest dynamics, and incorporates state changes and transitions between the forest dynamics modes depending on changes in disturbance regime. Conclusions Conceptual models of forest dynamics should be comprehensive enough to incorporate both long-term directional change and short-term cyclic forest dynamics, as well as transitions from one dynamics mode to another depending on changes in the driving disturbance regime type. Models that capture such essential features of forest dynamics are indispensable for educational purposes, in setting reference conditions and in developing methods in forest conservation, restoration and ecosystem management.
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